In a job interview you might stumble on the interview question: “How do you handle criticism?“, “Can you deal with criticism?” or “Tell me about a time when you received criticism.”
In this article, you’ll find a perfect example answer, interview tips, do’s and don’ts. Use the CARL framework for professional reflection and to structure your answer.
Why do interviewers ask this interview question? The interviewer wants to know if you experienced conflict on the job and how you handled the situation. They seek candidates that accept and apply constructive criticism rather than those acting defensively with a fight-or-flight response.
√ Do provide an answer that is truthful and professional. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t experienced criticism on the job or acted poorly in the past (to a certain extent), as long as you describe what you’d do differently or how you will respond in the future.
√ Do pay attention to your tone of voice. It’s important to maintain a calm and peaceful tone. Give yourself enough time to breathe in and breathe out if you find that difficult.
√ Do make a distinction between criticism from a client, coworker or employer. Your approach depends on the source. In the case of a customer complaint you listen, empathize and satisfy the customer with the best possible solution. When your coworker is the critic, you paraphrase him/her and try to understand the criticism. If you don’t understand it, you can ask: “Can you give me an example?“. If the criticism is coming from your boss, you rationally assess the criticism, request time to follow up and see it as an opportunity to improve your performance.
X Don’t respond immediately. Say something along the lines of: “Let me think for a second..” or paraphrase the sentence before you answer the question.
X Don’t tell the interviewer about a situation where you fled, blamed or accused the critic. These fight-or-flight responses are bad for working relationships.
X Don’t let the emotional side get the better of you when answering this question. Don’t blame or talk negatively about your former employer or coworker, but stay rational and reasonable.